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Now Open: 22,000 MT Duty Free EU Quota For Pre-Cooked Loins European Union, January 3, 13

After a year of negotiations, the European Union has finally set a higher quota for the import of pre-cooked tuna loins to the delight of the Spanish canning industry. This means imports from Thailand, Vietnam, China, Indonesia and Philippines imported from January 2nd will not be subject to duties until the quota has been exhausted. Pre-cooked loins from Ecuador and other GSP- plus countries were already coming in duty free.
The new trade regulation, already in effect since the beginning of this month, will allow 22,000 tons of the raw material to enter the EU tax-free annually for the next three years. The previous quota had been fixed at 15,000 tons at 6% tariff.
Anfaco, the group of Spanish canners, says the increased availability of raw tuna material is “central to the competitiveness” of the Spanish industry because it maintains “high levels of direct and indirect employment in important areas of our coastline that are dependent on fisheries, such as Galicia.” It had previously argued that the Spanish fleet was selling their catches to Southeast Asia, and not Europe, which made the supply of tuna loins at a good price a problem.
The quota which will pre-dominantly be used for pre-cooked loins from Thailand to be imported into Spain, comes at a time when ANFACO is making a lot of noise in Brussels about the “unhygienic” nature of Thai canned tuna products, due to inefficient sterilization. Loins are not sterilized at all, but only pre-cooked and then put in a plastic bag and frozen. It is unsure how Spanish health officials will treat the imports of Thai pre-cooked loins, after a lot of the negative publicity on Thai imports generated by the Spanish processors associations.
The higher quota is especially important in the “current context” of Europe’s canned tuna market, which Anfaco describes as “being liberalized significantly in recent years based on EU trade policy.” Anfaco says the free trade agreements between the EU and third countries “significantly limits the competitiveness of the EU’s tuna processing and canning industry,” which is dominated by Spain.
Spain produces 70% of the EU’s canned tuna, making it the second largest tuna producer in the world behind Thailand. Each year Spain produces about 230,000 tons of canned tuna and the majority goes to markets in Italy, France, Portugal, UK and Germany.